She caught me with the knife when I was sixteen, maybe seventeen.
I don't know what hurt worse: the self-inflicted gashes from a serrated pocket knife across my upper right thigh or my mother's face.
It definitely wasn't the wounds. It was her expression, I'm sure of it.
The wounds bled the emotional pain with its crimson result. The blood and life-long scarring are just consequences of relief.
Her face, long and mouth wide, eyes beading with tears.
I couldn't tell if she was afraid to approach, thinking I might try to end my life or afraid I might hurt her more than she already was.
She stood there, in shock for a moment.
I hate that I remember this. For the longest time after she passed, I only remembered the good things. Like this time a year or two prior when we had the windows open in the house and Mom was blasting Christmas music. Her favorite.
She was singing a bit off-key to an Elvis Presley Hawaiian-inspired Holiday classic and sorting her abundant collection of ornaments.
The tree was up, leaning slightly in the back corner of the sun room. The glass block wall always made me giggle, with the artificial fir propped before it. It seemed so off to me. I guess not as odd-seeming as the Hawaiian-inspired Christmas music—it worked together.
She was happy. It was her favorite time of year. The windows were open and the cool Florida winter slipped in through the tiny screen holes lining each window of our fifties-built beach house.
I love those memories.
But one day, I unlocked the storage boxes up in my mind's dusty attic and all the shit I locked away resurfaced in random order.
I no longer needed sadistic television to haunt my thoughts. I have my unlocked memories to keep me tossing and turning at night instead.
I don't quite remember how she got the knife now, but she had it. She'd dropped to her knees beside me and called for my dad, voice breaking around tears.
Great, I thought. Then came my gushing. I knew it was coming. It always does.
My dad came in and I just remember him yelling and huffing out. He returned with a wet washcloth for the blood, but that's about all I remember of him in that moment.
I swore I'd locked the door, but that lock was funny. I remember having dreams about that door—everyone walking in on me, even in my most private moments.
You had to play around with it to make sure it locked properly, otherwise someone could just push it open.
I remember my dad taking my bedroom door off, because, you know, that's how you fix a teenaged girl with mental problems—you remove her only source of privacy, of security.
My memory is spotty for everything else, but Mom's face was so clear, so present.
I miss her face. Not the memory face, the real one.
The memory face is never the same. It's healthy Mom, it's cancer-ridden Mom—it's inconsistent.
It's been almost twelve years since she passed, and the fissure in my heart hasn't yet healed fully. I'm not sure it ever will.
I see young girls with their mothers at the local coffee house and the reality hits that she missed everything. She missed her daughter getting married and her three beautiful grandchildren. She missed her son's wedding and birth of his first child.
She missed all the good things.
She was there for the knife, though. I guess that has to count for something.
'How's your business going?'
'Fine.' I hate it.
If only he knew her, then he'd understand.
'I wouldn't do it again, if that's what you mean,' I said, pulling my MacBook Pro closer to me atop the long work table in the mall.
What was she thinking?
They always end up letting you down.
I like being flawed. It gives me something to write about.
I let my kids examine my naked body yesterday.
There's no winning with blame.
Every time I think I'm getting better at this whole life thing, I do something wrong and set it back.
It was cold that day. Odd for Florida.
I gave twenty dollars to a woman on the side of the road today.
I like getting older.
There's something about with age and experience comes wisdom that's exhilarating.
The bad thing about family is you can never escape the past.
They remember everything.
I'll see this one through, I tell myself. I'll finish it.
After this, I'll put it to bed. After this, I'll move forward.
I'm the one who makes the show happen.
I was supposed to be an artist.
She asked me.
On her deathbed, she told me.
Something I learned as a visual artist and writer is that some of the best healing comes from expression.
There's something surreal about standing in front of a crowd of strangers—writers who all want the same thing.
At the end of the Writers In Paradise sessions, everyone got a chance to present a refined version of their submitted work, or a new story they were working on.
I was the only teenager at Writers in Paradise with Dennis Lehane, Sterling Watson and other well-known authors back in 2006.
I wake up to an alarm on the iPhone 7 I make payments on because all my older iPhones stop working properly whenever a new one comes out.
(I bought in, didn't I?)
I tried, but it just wasn't for me.
I love how my oldest daughter's friends come to the door to invite her out to play.
It's the third day since I made my decision.
In three days, I've learned more about myself than I have in the past three years.
Sometimes it just doesn't matter.
You can lay out your perfect, step-by-step roadmap, but when it comes down to it, you're never really prepared for anything.
It’s been 12 years since I expressed myself through writing—the one creative outlet that makes me truly happy. It’s going to be a messy, crazy ride, but one I need to take to be the whole person I want to be. Coming with me?